3798 – The Soldier

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8  Comments Off on 3798 – The Soldier
Mar 142017
 

The 45/1.8 is a lens that I very rarely use. It’s not that it does not perform well. It does, and it does extremely so. It is also not the angle of view. In fact the 90mm (eq) focal length is what I find most satisfying for street photography. At that focal length the size of the frame best matches my area of attention. Seeing with the 45/1.8 is completely effortless.

No, it’s the same reason why I tend to prefer the 17/1.8 over the 25/1.8: metal over plastic. Stupid, huh?

May 312016
 

You may have heard about it or not, but if not I can tell you: Alexander Van der Bellen won the Austrian presidency.

It was tight. On Sunday night Norbert Hofer, the nationalist with the friendly face, was in front with 52%, but at that time none of the absentee ballots had been counted. We thankfully don’t use voting machines and we count manually. In order to avoid 20 hour counting marathons with all their potential for human error, absentee ballots are counted the day after.

Normally this does not matter. It may shift a seat in a general election, but it hardly makes a difference.

Not so this time. Results of absentee ballots have a strong bias towards progressive. It’s a result of the distribution of voters who use absentee voting. They tend to be from the cities, younger and better educated, more open to change. Obviously that does not correlate well with people who vote for closed borders, hate against muslims and traditional values of the past.

Everybody knew that Alexander Van der Bellen, the former head of the Green Party, would get a mighty boost from absentee ballots, but would it suffice? Sunday night the projections were for 50.0% vs 50.0%, with an overhang of arond 3000 votes for Van der Bellen. With more than four million voters and a margin of deviation of 0.7% nobody knew.

The next afternoon, half an hour before the official result was presented, Norbert Hofer conceded defeat via Facebook. A single district was missing, that’s what was delaying the official result, but at that time it was clear the he would miss presidency by around 30.000 votes.

What did Hofer’s party? Well, they did what they always do. It was hard to attack the counting committees because they had had seats in all of them, but declaring the election invalid was not even the goal. Obviously they were mostly interested in creating a myth, something along the lines of the old Stab-in-the-back myth.

Knowing that the bias of absentee votes would not be in their favor, they already began to declare “doubts” about the absentee voting system weeks before the election. Thus when defeat came, their followers were already primed and “knew” that victory “had been taken” from them and how.

The party itself called for moderation, but they also played with ambiguities. For instance they always said they would still consider an appeal, but they wouldn’t go for it when the irregularities were not massive enough to change the result. On the other hand they didn’t find major irregularities either.

In some districts the counting of absentee ballots had begun too early, but their results were not off the trend.

One district had counted correctly but reported wrong results for the turnout of voters. But then, 145% having voted is obviously wrong and when sums and checksums of votes are correct, there is no problem either. It’s just the usual small percentage of human errors. It’s exactly what the voting system’s builtin checks are designed to capture and what capture they did.

Years ago I’ve worked as election supervisor in a polling station for a few elections. It’s a stressful job. You sleep bad for fear of being late at the polling station. Before the first voters are admitted at 7:00, you must already have counted the number of ballot papers. In the evening, after the election and after having counted the votes, you will have to count again what’s left. Woe to the supervisor when the numbers don’t sum up. It’s an example for one of the numerous small checks.

That’s the whole character of our election system. It is well designed, robust, tried and tested. Therefore, from my long experience with elections I strongly reject the possibility of fraud. It would be easier with voting machines, but our manual system involves much too many people. This is a rich country with a long history of democratic elections. No chaos can be exploited and no violent riots, as they so often plague elections in young democracies.

And again: functionaries of Hofer’s Freedom Party were present everywhere and in all phases. They’ve verified and signed the whole process.

Knowing all that and knowing that everybody else should also know it, I’ve spent some time looking at the comments on Hofer’s Facebook page. Oh my! The party’s strategy of whispered doubt and murmured speculation had yielded fruit.

This is a dangerous thing, because it tries to compensate for loss of an election by de-legitimizing the whole democratic system. Some idiots even called for violence and others posted Van der Bellen’s private address. #notinmyname and #notmypresident were the hash tags.

But then, that’s Jörg Haider’s party, the party still playing with oblique Nazi references, the party that attracts neo-Nazis like flies are attracted by rotten flesh.

3511 – The Diver

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8  Comments Off on 3511 – The Diver
May 302016
 

The water near the shore of river Danube in Vienna may be a strange place for a monument, but when it is for Hans Hass, diver, biologist and filmmaker, Viennese, it makes perfect sense, don’t you think so? And besides, the glittering sun shining through the canvas is nothing but beautiful.

3509 – Two White Geese

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8  Comments Off on 3509 – Two White Geese
May 282016
 

While I used the Nikon D300, I had an 85/1.4 AI-S and an 85/1.8. In terms of size and weight, the 85/1.4 was a monster. I’ve later tried to use it with the Olympus E-P2 and an adapter, but I soon lost interest. The adapter added to the length, and the whole thing was pretty unbalanced.

The 85/1.8 was much smaller and lighter, but wide open it suffered from purple fringing. It was an old design, clearly not made for digital cameras.

Why do I mention that? The reason is, that in terms of equivalent focal length at 35mm they are more or less the same. It’s the classic portrait lens.

Of course the Olympus 45/1.8 can’t match the mighty Nikon 85/1.4 in bokeh wide open. In fact it can’t even match the Nikon 85/1.8. It does not matter though. If I want something close to that, I just use the much bigger and heavier Olympus 75/1.8. In terms of bokeh it’s wonderful, in terms of shallow DOF it’s close but not there. It is still smaller than the 85/1.4 AI-S that I had and it weighs 300g. That’s half of the Nikon. Of course both Olympus lenses focus extremely fast, none will ever show front- or backfocus. That’s one of the big advantages of mirrorless cameras: focus is always accurate and you don’t ever need focus adjustment settings.

But really, most of the time I am not interested in shallow DOF at all. I can have it if I want to, but if not, I enjoy a trio of featherweights, for instance 12/2.0, 25/1.8 and 45/1.8. That’s one main reason why I always come back to this small, sharp and precise lens.

3508 – Zigzag

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8  Comments Off on 3508 – Zigzag
May 272016
 

Taken out of context, an image often simply can’t be placed. While tagging this one for the blog, I was sure it had been taken in Carinthia, peobably near home. I couldn’t remember the situation, but at least Carinthia seemed like a safe bet.

Wrong. It was in Vienna. I still can’t place it exactly, but now I remember.

That’s the difference between taking images as memories and doing what I do. I like to call it art (and I think that I sometimes succeed in that regard), but whatever you call it, it’s not for the purpose of recording memories. Rather much to the contrary 😀